September 3rd marks the anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s signing of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act into Law. In 1964, this piece of legislation was the culmination of a bipartisan effort aimed at recognizing the value of America’s parks, forests and wildlife refuges as a sound, sustainable financial investment in our future.
LWCF takes a small percentage of the revenues generated by off-shore oil and gas leases and invests that revenue back into outdoor recreation in the form of 3:1 matching funds for projects as varied as public hunting lands and boat ramps, to public tennis courts and swimming pools.
Ohio has benefitted mightily over the years to the tune of $325M since 1964. LWCF funded projects have included the Ottawa NWR, Cuyahoga Valley NP, Wayne NF, and boating access on the Little Miami River to name just a few. On tap for 2015 the Divisions of Parks and Forestry are working with partners like The Nature Conservancy, the American Discovery Trail Society, and the Buckeye Trail Association to purchase nearly 800 acres of inholdings in the Shawnee State Forest. These parcels will be added to Ohio’s working forests; reducing management expenses, supporting sustainable forestry practices, protecting threatened and endangered species, providing public access to hunting, and protecting watersheds.
Now five decades later, Congress is being asked to permanently re-authorize an honestly budgeted LWCF with no less than 1.5 percent of annual LWCF funding directed towards “making public lands public” for the benefit of sportsmen trying to access ever-more-isolated public lands.
This week, OCF’s board voted to sign on to a letter to Senator Rob Portman, thanking him for his support of LWCF in 2012 and again urging him to support SB 338 later this year or early next.
Coming soon, we’ll post a copy of the letter here on our website. In the meantime, you can learn more about the Land and Water Conservation Fund at www.lwcfcoalition.org. For a listing of projects carried out in Ohio, visit the National Parks website at http://waso-lwcf.ncrc.nps.gov/public/index.cfm.